October 2, 2008

What sports is missing

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

If only every sport was smart enough to adapt a playoff system like baseball’s. Think about how great it is to see only the best teams in the entire sport playing for the championship. In baseball, only the top teams can make it; eight teams out 30 make the post-season. Compare that to the NBA and the NHL where more than half of the teams that play make the playoffs and you see why their playoffs take forever and feel bogged down. With NFL, their system is one of a kind and hard to knock because unlike the other major North American sports, playing more than a game a week is preposterous and it would be impossible to add more teams without taking away the coveted bye week for the top teams that make the NFL post-season truly unique. The lack of room for error in the MLB playoffs is what makes October games so stunning. And speaking of that no-room-for-error thing…

The Brewers looked sloppy yesterday and made several key mistakes — mistakes that absolutely cannot happen in the post-season — and the Phillies dominant pitching shut them down completely. The real question is what will happen with CC Sabathia on the mound today? Facing Brett Myers might be exactly what the Brewers need. The way that Milwaukee is running their big man ragged (this is his fourth start with only three days rest in a row), he might be glad if the team can keep in this series until Game 5 where he would most certainly pitch again — this time on an uncanny four days rest.
The Cubs are in trouble. If they couldn’t get to Derek Lowe while at home, how are they going to score in this series? Their strength was also supposed to be their strong rotation but after one of their supposed “aces” (Ryan Dempster) gave up seven walks and three home runs can we really still think that? Game 2 starter Carlos Zambrano isn’t exactly on a good run either and hasn’t made an above-average start since pitching his no-hitter. If the Cubs don’t get to Chad Billingsley early and often today, this series will end very prematurely, maybe even in a sweep. Poor Cubs fans.
And I realize Manny won’t hit .800 but there is no way he should be pitched to in an circumstance for the rest of this series. Going 2-for-4 with a homer and a walk is just a sliver of what he can do.
Manny’s replacement had a pretty good day out in Anaheim, hitting a two-run shot to defeat the Angels in a brilliant pitcher’s duel. All I really have to say about that Jon Lester is, “Wow.” That kid can pitch with the pressure on. Many pitchers throw their breaking stuff for balls and hope that batters chase it; Lester throws his sweet hook for strikes and people are still baffled by it and miss. He has a very bright future in the big leagues and if I were the Red Sox, I would lock him up for as long as I can.

Now, I can’t wait to see how the White Sox fare today in St. Petersburg but with Javier Vazquez going for Chicago, I’m not so sure if they can out-match the Rays in Game 1. Hopefully the game isn’t played in front of a half-full stadium either.

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